A lupine spin on the typical, tone-deaf appropriation narrative.

WEREGIRL

From the Weregirl series , Vol. 1

A white teen discovers a shape-shifting ability along with dangerous secrets.

High school junior Nessa Kurland desperately wants a cross-country track scholarship to secure not only her access to college, but also her escape from her small, chemically polluted, no-future town. She needs to be faster and trains when she can around school, her job at the vet, and taking her autistic brother for treatments in the local clinic. But things change rapidly once Nessa is bitten by a wolf: the wound heals miraculously, her senses begin to sharpen, and her speed improves dramatically almost overnight—the downside being that she also transforms into a white wolf at the new and full moons. Seeking guidance from a Native American practitioner of shamanism (his tribal affiliation is unspecified) and spending time with a wolf pack in the woods, Nessa begins to understand why the wolves chose her. Nessa’s confrontation with the dark truths about her town falls flat in a rushed ending that seems more intent on a sequel than a resolution. Flatter still is the cultural dissonance. Despite its (generic) borrowing of sacred Native American cultural myths, the narrative is more invested in its multiple, complex wolf characters than in the two identified Native characters, who remain simple, expositional (and even magical) helpers, conveniently out of the way through the majority of the text. These characters’ rejection of a monolithic view of Native peoples is, ironically, undermined by the text’s failure to acknowledge their specific heritages.

A lupine spin on the typical, tone-deaf appropriation narrative. (Paranormal thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-937133-55-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Chooseco

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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For readers seeking sincere romance and quests, this fulfills its promise.

THE DRAGON'S PROMISE

From the Six Crimson Cranes series , Vol. 2

A young woman is on a dangerous mission to fulfill a promise.

In the conclusion to the story that began in Six Crimson Cranes (2021), Shiori, the Princess of Kiata, begins her adventures at the bottom of the Taijin Sea. She’s about to confront the Dragon King and learn more about the broken pearl her stepmother left for her to return to its rightful owner. Her promise to do so will ultimately test and reveal the bonds of family and country as well as her love for Takkan, the boy she left behind. While she still has a sense of mischief and remains quite stubborn, Shiori has learned from the past and tames her impulsivity with a willingness to listen to advice and see past surface appearances. Although the designated villains are still clearly bad, it is her potential allies who help round out the characters’ motivations and present surprises that further Shiori’s personal development. The writing is vibrant and colorful, as with the descriptions of palaces both on land and sea, the variety of foods served by street vendors, and the treacherous world of demons. The story continues to reference the source material from “The Wild Swans” while integrating familiar Chinese myths and legends. Most characters are assumed East Asian.

For readers seeking sincere romance and quests, this fulfills its promise. (map) (Fantasy. 13-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30095-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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Part exciting adventure, part thoughtful coming-of-age novel, this story retells and overturns familiar tropes.

SIX CRIMSON CRANES

From the Six Crimson Cranes series , Vol. 1

Girl meets magic. Hijinks ensue.

Shiori’anma, Princess of Kiata and eldest daughter of Emperor Hanariho, is the intrepid protagonist in this folktale retelling. About to turn 17 and be married off to a third-rank barbarian lord, Shiori desperately looks for ways out of the engagement. Her emerging talents in forbidden magic and a run-in with a young shape-shifting dragon help to pass the time before she is doomed to relocate to the cold North. Things take an even worse turn, however, when she uncovers her stepmother’s secrets. As a consequence, her six brothers are cursed into assuming the form of cranes by day. Shiori is whisked away and coerced into silence, for every word that escapes her lips will mean the death of one of her brothers. She must learn to survive on her own and use her wits and hard-won experience to save both her family and country. Readers here revisit the East Asian–inspired world established in Lim’s The Blood of Stars duology. Despite a few hiccups in the logic of the magic, the author cleverly maintains the basic structure of this well-known European folktale type while weaving in rich elements of Asian mythology, including dragon pearls and the goddess of the moon. The exploration of complicated family dynamics is a particular strength, especially the challenging of the evil stepmother cliché.

Part exciting adventure, part thoughtful coming-of-age novel, this story retells and overturns familiar tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 13-17)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30091-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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